It remains to be seen whether or not his former high school torched this particular bridge, but Phillip Sims is in the process of giving playing sooner rather than later a shot.
Serving as the keynote speaker at a benefit luncheon Friday, Virginia head coach Mike London confirmed to those in the audience that the school has begun the process of filing a hardship waiver on Sims’ behalf that would allow the quarterback to be eligible immediately instead of sitting out a season. London also confirmed that the waiver request would be based on a medical condition facing a member of Sims’ family in the area.
The specific health issue was not addressed, obviously, and London was uncertain how long the process would take to play out.
“We’ve just started that,” London said of the waiver process. “Who knows how long it will take?”
On April 27, Alabama officially announced that the Chesapeake, Va., high school product would be transferring from the Tide for what the player described in a statement as “personal matter”. A couple of days later, however, Richard Morgan, Sims’ Oscar Smith High School coach, told a local paper that the reason behind the transfer was his former player didn’t want to sit behind A.J. McCarron the next two seasons.
While the failing health of a close family member is grounds for the NCAA to approve a waiver to play immediately, one’s standing on the depth chart is not.
If indeed Sims is granted a waiver, London said he wouldn’t necessarily be handed the starting job as some have intimated.
“The keys have not been handed over to this young man,” London told the crowd.
Last year’s starter, Michael Rocco, returns and still sits atop the depth chart. While Rocco completed 60 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns last season, he also threw 12 interceptions and ranked 70th in the country — and ninth among the 12 starting QBs in the ACC — in passing efficiency.
Rocco’s backup, David Watford, who played in 10 games and attempted 74 passes last season, returns as well. Counting Sims, the Cavaliers will have five scholarship QBs on the roster by the time summer camp opens in a couple of months, and London said all are aware that a competition will be in the offing.
“These guys understand the challenge,” London said. “They embrace the opportunity to compete. They’re great teammates and there’s no issues with them.”